Marx, socialism, and ecology


Marx, socialism, and ecology: Discussion on Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism by Kohei Saito

This discussion by Amsterdam-based labor activist and writer on Marxist theory, Karel Ludenhoff, addresing the larger theoretical implications of Kohei Saito’s, Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (Monthly Review Press, 2017), first appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Logos (vol. 17, no. 2).

Students often reproached me for being theoretical. I never denied that. I always said then that you do not need to confuse the notion of praxis with that of practice. In my opinion, Marx connected theory and praxis in the real Aristotelian sense: for him theory was praxis. —A. Th. Van Leeuwen

Kohei Saito’s, Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (KME), deals with how Marx conceived of the metabolism between humankind and nature. He shows the development in Marx’s thought concerning the relation between humankind and nature in capitalist society. In addition, he refers to the consequences of Marx’s ecological dimension for theorizing about a future socialist, communist society which led, for example, to Marx’s statement in his Economic Manuscript of 1864-651:

From the standpoint of a higher socioeconomic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in another man. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its occupiers, its beneficiaries, and they have to bequeath it in an improved state to the succeeding generations as boni patres familias. (cited on p. 173, here and below, emphasis in original).

In his “Acknowledgments,” Saito writes that KME is the English version of the German edition, which is based on his dissertation.2 In the German edition, he states that the inspiration for this book has its origin in his editing activity for Volume IV/18 (soon to appear) of the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA²), which will contain Marx’s ecological notebooks.
Uncovering Marx’s Ecology

KME is an intervention in the contemporary debates about ecological problems within contemporary Marxism and about the significance of ecological elements in Marx’s critique of political economy.

Monthly Review Online for more

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